PowerLine -> Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End
PowerLine -> Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End
- Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End
- The Alt-Right vs. the Ctrl-Left
- Michael Cromartie, RIP
- The Texas Storm and Climate Change
- Terry McAuliffe changes his tune on statues
|Democrats’ Russia Story Hits Another Dead End
Posted: 28 Aug 2017 04:33 PM PDT
The New York Times headlines: “Felix Sater, Trump Associate, Boasted That Moscow Business Deal ‘Will Get Donald Elected.’” Sounds exciting, right? But the story fizzles rapidly.
Felix Sater was a real estate broker who didn’t work for the Trump organization. (Hence the weaselly “Trump associate” headline.) He has, to say the least, a colorful history. But what is the story? Sater sent a couple of emails to Michael Cohen, who did work for the Trump organization as a lawyer. Sater, a Russian immigrant, enthusiastically promoted the idea of a Trump property in Moscow, which he claimed he could deliver. The Times likes this portion of a Sater email, dated November 3, 2015:
The Times says there is no indication that Cohen even replied to Sater’s emails. In any event, the Moscow project was investigated briefly and, the Times says, dropped. The Trump organization has properties in 11 countries, and Russia isn’t one of them. So the story is what? A Russian immigrant who didn’t work for Trump had a vision of making Donald Trump look good (and making himself a lot of money) via a business deal with the Russians, which Trump’s people never followed up on. It’s like a joke with no punch line.
The Times tries to make something out of nothing:
Oh, please. Sater was hoping to make a lot of money as a broker, but the Trump organization didn’t pursue the deal. Has Sater even met Donald Trump? Not as far as the emails disclose.
You can hear the gnashing of teeth as the Times recites the story that it wishes had been true:
“Willing to receive damaging information” about a political opponent? That is pathetic. I have never heard of a campaign that wasn’t willing to receive damaging information about an opponent. At least the Trump campaign didn’t manufacture lies about Hillary Clinton, as the Clinton campaign or the DNC apparently did via the fake “dossier” in which the FBI, under Barack Obama’s corrupt Department of Justice, seems to have collaborated. If you are looking for a scandal, you need to look no further. But of course, the New York Times, as a Democratic Party newspaper, has no interest in looking into that story.
|The Alt-Right vs. the Ctrl-Left
Posted: 28 Aug 2017 03:59 PM PDT
A couple weeks back, before the events in Charlottesville blew up the world and gave a stimulus-style boost to the statue-removal industry (public infrastructure in reverse?), I asked on Twitter for definitions of the “alt-right,” and baited liberal readers to explain how or whether they distinguished between the “alt-right” and the generic “right” that liberals also seem to hate just as much. One reason for doing this is that for a lot of people, “alt-right” has become a lazy shorthand term to use against any and all conservatives. Don’t like Ted Cruz or Mitch McConnell? Just call them “alt-right.” For a certain cast of the liberal mind, all of the right is now the “alt-right.”
To my pleasant surprise I got a number of intelligent and serious responses, noting that the real “alt-right,” like we saw in Charlottesville, are distinguished from the old-fashioned right by its explicit anti-Semitism, and the kind of “blood-and-soil” nationalism—which is clearly distinct from patriotism—that we also saw on display in Charlottesville. To this might be added a contempt for the rule of law which is the bedrock of any decent constitutional government, which embraces a mob mentality that erodes the rule of law. (On this point, see Lincoln’s famous Lyceum Address of 1838, whose teaching is just as relevant today as it was then.) For my part, if I should ever get the chance to confront Richard Spencer, I think I’d conclude my cross-examination with the proposition that by his views and actions he had implicitly renounced his American citizenship, and should, therefore, be deported.
The term “alt-right” probably originated with one of the more idiosyncratic thinkers on the right, Paul Gottfried of Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, way back in 1988. You can read some of his observations on the scene here. (NB: Gottfried has always been a strong critic and opponent of my peeps in the Claremont school of political thought, and especially Harry Jaffa, but I have always found Gottfried worth reading.) And while the “alt” in “alt-right” is supposed to be shorthand for “alternative,” given that it also tracks with computer keyboard shorthand, instead of using “alt-left” for the mirror image of the alt-right such as the Antifa thugs, I prefer “ctrl-left,” which is obvious shorthand for “control-left,” which seems to to me a fitting epithet to use in rebuttal.
A final question concerns the extent to which Trump has legitimized or summoned forth a latent neo-fascist right. I’ve known about Richard Spencer and his movement for several years, having stumbled across an organized event by him online one day. From CNN you’d think he sprang full-blown from the Trump campaign only in 2016. But there is a sense in which Trump’s blunt and crude messaging in 2016 unleashed the alt-right in part because conservatives have been too timid for too long in resisting the liberal narrative about racist America. But it was only “blunt” and “crude” because he expressed widely-held sentiments of millions of decent Americans.
Here it is worth taking in the words of another of my old teachers, William B. Allen, who was chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission under President Reagan. Allen recently did a turn on the Seth Leibsohn-Chris Buskirk radio show on this point, and a podcast and transcript are available over at American Greatness. Allen reminds us that the left doesn’t just hate Trump—they hate us. This is why Allen, who opposed Trump in the 2016 GOP nomination campaign, now supports him.
The whole thing is worth listening to, but here is the key part:
Trump differs because he is unconcerned about being called a racist. All the more embarrassing since Trump is not a conservative. But one thing about Trump is that he is no coward.
Chaser: While we’re on the subject of Antifa and the “ctrl-left,” I’m wondering if there was a single instance of violence at any of the Tea Party rallies a few years back that terrified so many liberals and journalists? I’ll wait. . .
|Michael Cromartie, RIP
Posted: 28 Aug 2017 12:43 PM PDT
(Steven Hayward)Very sad news today of the passing of Michael Cromartie, after a long battle with cancer. I’ve known Mike for 30 years, and he was always my favorite person to encounter on the street or anywhere else in Washington. No one had a more infectious sense of joy and delight, which was the obvious product of his deep Christian faith, which he nevertheless applied with flinty realism in our always troubled world.
You can read more about Michael from his official biography at the Ethics and Public Policy center here. It is hard to convey how much he will be missed because there is no one else like him in Washington DC—or anywhere else for that matter.
He received the dread news last week from his doctors that there was nothing more they could do for him. I posted a note on Facebook last week upon hearing the news:
I could try to describe his excellence as a human being at more length, and why he was unique to the Washington scene, but I’d rather point to the superb Christianity Today magazine profile of him done in 2013, titled simply, but accurately, “The Shepherd.” The article tells the story of Mike’s creation, the Faith Angle Forum, which brought together mostly secular (and therefore clueless) journalists and theologians of all faiths to decode how religion actually works, as opposed to the cartoon version that reigns in most newsrooms. This paragraph captures Mike’s spirit perfectly:
About those cocktail hours: Maybe my fondest memory of Mike—and likely the hardest I have ever laughed in my whole life—was taking in his dead-on simultaneous imitation of the two modes of Jimmy Swaggart—the piano-playing gospel preacher and the seedy motel prostitute customer. (Mike didn’t care much for gross hypocrisy.) Just a couple glasses of whiskey did the trick, and if anyone had ever taped it he could have had a second career on Saturday Night Live. Not that he was without some minor show biz experience: he was the Philadelphia 76ers mascot for a season back in the 1970s.
As the Christianity Today story concluded: “Such is the singular accomplishment of Cromartie, who decided that lighting a candle was better than cursing the darkness.”
Mike sat down with me in the summer of 2016 for a podcast about his work, which I’m happy to repost today in case you missed it.
|The Texas Storm and Climate Change
Posted: 28 Aug 2017 10:59 AM PDT
I’m sure if only President Trump had kept America in the Paris Climate Accord Hurricane Harvey would have blown back out to sea or not been as severe. That’s just about how the climatistas are predictably reacting to the flooding and devastation in Houston.
Once again we have Roy Spencer on the case. While the media is rushing to make “unprecedented” the most overused word in their vocabulary, Prof. Roy has checked the record, and guess what? The rainfall amounts are entirely precedented:
Worth reading the whole thing.
|Terry McAuliffe changes his tune on statues
Posted: 28 Aug 2017 10:34 AM PDT
Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is a slippery customer. In 2015, McAuliffe favored keeping Virginia’s monuments to Confederate leaders, arguing that “these are part of our heritage.” “Leave the statues and those things alone,” he told MSNBC.
But just two years later, McAuliffe supports local governments that want to take statues of Robert E. Lee and others down. How does he explain this shift?
He did so yesterday by telling Jake Tapper that the statues have become very controversial. But the statues have always been very controversial. In the 1890s, black leader John Mitchell opposed the erection of the statue of Gen. Lee on Monument Avenue in Richmond, calling it a celebration of Lee’s “legacy of treason and blood.”
Indeed, the law the Democrats are trying to overturn, which prohibits local jurisdictions from trying to “disturb or interfere with any monuments or memorials” erected to honor Civil War veterans, was passed in 1904 precisely because the legislature recognized that these monuments were, and would remain, controversial.
They were controversial enough in 2015 that McAuliffe had to take a position on the matter. Surely, he understood that a great many Virginians were not best pleased to see statues of those who fought against the Union and on the side of Slave States.
However, McAuliffe also understood that most Virginians want the statues on display and that it was in his interests as governor to agree with that position. Now that he’s a lame duck (term limits are not without advantages) his interests have shifted.
In any event, the fact that an issue is very controversial provides no justification for taking a particular side. Lots of things are very controversial. Gay marriage, for one. McAuliffe’s decision to let felons vote en masse, for another. The controversy raises issues; it doesn’t answer them.
I happen to agree that local jurisdictions should be able to remove statues if that’s what the people in the locality want to do. But McAuliffe offers no sensible justification for his change of heart.
As I said, he’s a slippery customer.